Welsh boss: Premiership is for life, not just for kick-off
London Welsh may be working flat out for the start of the new Premiership season, but head coach Lyn Jones has insisted the hard graft cannot stop there.
The Old Deer Park-based Championship title holders were belatedly handed their place in the top flight last Friday when an independent appeal panel hearing over- turned the orginal decision to deny them promotion.
An independent auditor had recommended the club be denied their place in the top tier of English rugby on the basis the Exiles’ application fell foul of Professional Game Board’s minimum standard criteria – specifically their proposal to play home games at Oxford United’s Kassam stadium.
The news leaves Welsh, who have already made a host of new signings and released 12 players, with just two months to prepare for the start of the season.
Leicester Tigers will be the first visitors to Oxford when the season kicks-off on September 1, before the Richmond-based Exiles play their only top flight game of the campaign in the borough at Premiership champions Harlequins the following week.
And while Jones admitted his men had their work cut out, he thought next season was more about how they finished the campaign than how they started it.
“We know where we have got to be be by September 1. We know where we are going and how we are going to get there,” he said.
“The games in the Championship were tough affairs and tested us, but they have shown we have the ability to perform in the Premiership.
“We are under no illusions as to how tough it is going to be.
“But we cannot use September 1 as a deadline for recruitment and improving our staff. We want to start the season in the best possible position, but we will need to keep improving as the season goes on.”
The Welsh squad is littered with players who have been cut adrift from top flight rugby earlier in their career, such as former Quins youngster Seb Jewell and Bath academy star Matt Keyte.
And former Ospreys chief Jones was excited about his men realising their potential.
“You get involved in rugby to see the smile on peoples faces when you succeed,” he said.
“It is no different here. There are players in this squad who have had opportunities in the Premiership before and not been able to take them.
“They have got a second bite of the cherry and it is up to them to prove their point.”
Welsh’s appeal had the widespread backing from figures inside and outside the game, and the club acknowledged their support after the appeal process concluded last week.
Newcastle Falcons, who have had their Premiership relegation rubberstamped, have confirmed they will not appeal against the move.
“It is not only a victory for London Welsh, its players, coaching staff and all its supporters, but also for sport in general,” read a club statement last week.
p Welsh have been drawn in Amlin Cup Pool Five with Stade Francais, Grenoble and I Cavalieri Prato.